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9 big brands that have their headquarters where you least expect it

February 11, 2020

Some of the largest companies in the United States are nowhere near Silicon Valley or New York.

8 min read

In the United States, nobody denies that San Francisco is the undisputed king of technology and that New York is of finance. Both Apple and Google and Facebook all have their home in San Francisco Bay, and most of the main bank offices are in Manhattan. There are some notable exceptions (in Seattle are Microsoft and Amazon , for example), but as a general rule, these two cities have the reputation of business epicenters. But as the cost of living in cities continues to rise and remote work takes a more important place, small cities such as Boulder, Colorado, and Cincinnati are establishing themselves as regional technology hubs. And for these companies (some known, others not so much), small cities and towns have been fundamental to their success. Without a particular order, here we leave you 9 large American companies that have their headquarters in unexpected places.

1. Epic Games

9 big brands that have their headquarters where you least expect it9 big brands that have their headquarters where you least expect it

Image: Sergey Galyonkin

Tim Sweeney founded Epic Games in his parents' basement in Potomac, Maryland, in 1991, but since 1999, Fortnite's parent company, the massive video game, has had Cary, North Carolina, as home. A suburb of Raleigh with a population of about 150,000 inhabitants, Cary is the unsuspected home of the creators of the game that has more than 250 million players and that according to SuperData, a Nielsen company, accumulated $ 1.8 billion in 2019 . In 2013, Chinese giant Tencent paid $ 330 million for 40 percent of Epic Games shares, but the company has not shown signs of wanting to move from North Carolina. In October of last year, Epic Games announced that it would expand its current offices, where the company has been since 2015. The expansion, which will result in more than 2,000 new employees, will begin this year.

2. Snap

Image Credit: Bloomberg | Getty Images
Silicon Valley is the favorite place for social network startups: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, all were founded in this area. And Snapchat, co-founded by students at Stanford University, also has its origins here. But when the company had to really start, Snapchat (later Snap, Inc.) moved to southern California. Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy founded the app in Venice, California, and when they debuted in the New York stock market, in 2017, their initial offer was the largest in the history of Los Angeles. In 2018, they moved most of their employees to Santa Monica, near Venice, where they rented a space of 91,000 square meters. This also helped change the ecosystem for technology companies in Los Angeles, since TikTok, the Chinese company, also has its operations in this city .

3. Chewy

Image: Chewy

The pet supply company, Chewy.com , founded by Ryan Cohen and Michael Day in 2011, is known for surpassing Amazon, Walmart and several other known vendors thanks to its wide variety of pet products and its renowned customer service . It's also some pride for South Florida, as Chewy was founded in Danis Beach, Florida, a town with 30,000 inhabitants between Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood. PetSmart bought the company in 2017 for $ 3.35 billion, a sum that at that time was the highest paid by an e-commerce platform. The company was made public in July 2019, but its headquarters and some 1,500 of its 7,000 employees worldwide are still in Danis Beach.

4. Whole Foods

Image: Erik Freeland | Getty Images

Amazon, with offices in Seattle, bought Whole Foods in 2017 for $ 13.7 billion, but the supermarket chain with more than 40 years of existence still has its headquarters in Austin, Texas, and there are no plans for that to change . The merger of two small Austin stores in 1980 led to the creation of Whole Foods. After an initial expansion to Houston and Dallas, Whole Foods began buying small health food stores across the country. Today it operates more than 500 stores in the United States and the United Kingdom. The headquarters are located right next to the first location of Whole Foods, at the corner of Bowie and West Sixth streets, in downtown Austin.

5. Walmart

Image: David Gottschalk

The world's largest company for its profits and the # 1 of the Fortune 500, Walmart has always been, since its founding in 1962, in the small town of Bentonville, northwest Arkansas. Just 30 minutes from Fayetteville, where the University of Arkansas is, Walmart attracts many graduates and keeps them in the region after finishing the degree. And beyond Walmart, the Walton family has invested a lot of money in the region. Alice Walton created the renowned Crystal Bridges Museum of Narrative Art and has been a fundamental factor in the growth of the regional airport.

6. Zappos

Image: Ethan Miller | Getty Images

Founded in 1999 in San Francisco by Nick Swinmurn, Zappos operated in that city until 2004 when they decided to relocate in Henderson, Nevada, a decision made by CEO Tony Hsieh (whose Venture Frogs investment was one of the first in Zappos), who has said that it was because in the Las Vegas area there are a large number of call centers and customer service employees. In 2006, Swinmurn left the company that was acquired by Amazon in 2009, for $ 1.2 billion. In 2013, Hsieh moved the Zappos headquarters to the building that once occupied the city hall of Las Vegas, in the center of the city. Heish also leads the Downtown Project, a campaign focused on revitalizing the neglected downtown Las Vegas.

7. Burt's Bees

Image: Via Reddit

Burt Shavitz, the name (and face) behind the successful brand of natural skin care products, Burt's Bees, lived in Maine as a bee keeper when he and Roxanne Quimby started working together on the brand and selling products made with beeswax. They made candles, soaps and eventually, lip balms, which ended up being the brand's most successful product. These partners built the company in Maine, but in 1999 they moved to Durham, North Carolina, where economic conditions were more business friendly. Quimby bought Shavitz shares and shortly thereafter sold 80 percent of the company's total to AEA investors for $ 137 million. In 2007, Clorox bought Burt's Bees for $ 925 million, but its headquarters are still in Durham, far from its roots in Maine.

8. Salesforce Marketing Cloud

Image: jetcityimage | Getty Images

Founded as ExactTarget in 2000, Salesforce's Marketing Cloud is one of the greatest technological success stories in Indianapolis. When in 2013 the digital marketing automation company was acquired by Salesforce for $ 2.7 billion, it was the largest acquisition of a technology company in the city's history. And although Salesforce offices are in San Francisco, they maintain the Marketing Cloud operations in Indianapolis, and in 2016 they turned those offices into their regional offices. And as often happens in small cities like Indianapolis, this acquisition meant that former Marketing Cloud managers had the experience and funds to create and invest in other technology startups in the city. Scott Dorsey, co-founder and former CEO of ExactTarget, left the company after the acquisition of Salesforce and is now co-founder and partner of High Alpha, an investment fund in Indianapolis.

9. Zelle

Image: Zelle

PayPal is the most recognized name in terms of mobile payments, but since 2017, Zelle has slowly established itself as a great competitor. Zelle is a subsidiary of Early Warning, a jointly owned company of several banks including Bank of America, JP Morgan and Wells Fargo. Unusually, their offices are not in the financial capital, New York, or in the technological capital, San Francisco, but have their headquarters outside Phoenix, in Scottsdale, Arizona, a destination better known for its sports tourism than for The financial services industry.

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